Failure to invest in social care leaving 2,220 children and adults with a learning disability and/or autism in inpatient units at risk of abuse

Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation call for all political parties to commit to proper investment in social care in the community to stop people with a learning disability / autism remaining stuck in inpatient units


  • 3,670 reported uses of restrictive interventions in one month, an increase from last month, of which one in four was against a child  


  • At least 2,220 people with a learning disability / autism, of which 235 are children, continue to remain in inpatient units   


  • Little change in the number of admissions – with 100 admissions in October. 


  • Average length of stay in inpatient units is still 5.4 years 


  • Discharge delays for 140 people with a learning disability / autism  


According to data released today from NHS Digital2,220 people with a learning disability and/or autism remain in inpatient units, a reduction of 30 in October. 235 children continue to be locked away  

There was an increase in the number of reported uses of restrictive inventions with 3,670 reported number of restrictive interventions in one month, of which one in four was against a child.  

Lack of social care and housing provision in the community were the main reasons for delayed discharge, which impacted on 140 people.   

The average length of stay continues to be over five years – an average of 5.4 years. 

 Please see our infographic here.

Vivien Cooper OBE, CEO of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said: 

“Despite the recent announcements about more reviews, one in ten patients locked away in these institutions are children. They are exposed to one in four reported uses of restrictive interventions, which include being held down or kept in solitary confinement.

Behind these figures are real children who have a right to appropriate support and services in their local community which is not being delivered.

We hear numerous pledges in the election campaign, but we need commitment to leadership to “Transform Care” as promised over 8 years ago following the Winterbourne View abuse.” 



Dan Scorer, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:  

“The number of children locked away in these institutions remains the same and while 30 adults is a significant decrease this month, we are still a long way off the minimum target of 35% decrease which should have been met in March 2019.

There is still a big question about whether the right local support is being developed in the community to enable safe discharge and put a stop to the next generation of children and adults being admitted into these ‘modern day asylums’.

We are still a long way from seeing a sustained month-on-month decrease in the number of people with a learning disability and/or autism coming out of these institutions. Half a billion pounds is being spent on so-called “care” which parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has labelled as “damaging people”.

Whoever ends up with the keys to Number 10 must commit to setting up the specialist unit to tackle Transforming Care the committee called for, and fund social care for all working aged disabled adults who need it. This human rights scandal has to end.” 


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